“But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.”

“But now I go unto Jerusalem”
Literally:  “But now I am going to Jerusalem”–See Acts 20:3, for account of the undertaking of this journey. Also Acts 24:17. I am about to go now. This intended journey is mentioned in Acts 19:21,

Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome," (see also Acts 20:2-3). That he went to Jerusalem, according to his purpose, is recorded in his defense before Felix, (Acts 24:17,) “Now after many years, I came to bring aims to my nation, and offerings.”

“to minister unto the saints.”
Literally:  “Doing service to the saints.”  He is going to Jerusalem to minister to the poor saints there.

          To supply their necessities by bearing the contribution which the churches have made for them. To carry a contribution for the relief of their wants. From this and the two following verses we learn that the object of his journey to Jerusalem was, to carry a contribution made among the Gentile Christians of Macedonia and Achaia for the relief of the poor Jewish Christians at Jerusalem.  About this affair he had taken great pains, as appears from (I Cor. 16:1-4; II Cor. 8, and 9).
           His purpose in this affair is very evident from II Cor. 9:12-13, where he says: “The administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles, by the experiment of this ministration, they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them and unto all men.”  Paul was in hopes that this liberal contribution, sent by the Gentile Christians who had been converted by Paul's ministry, would engage the affections of the Jewish Christians, who had been much prejudiced against the reception of the Gentiles into the Church, without being previously obliged to submit to the yoke of the Law.
          He wished to establish a coalition between the converted Jews and Gentiles, being sensible of its great importance to the spread of the Gospel; and his procuring this contribution was one laudable device to accomplish this good end.  And this shows why he so earnestly requests the prayers of the Christians at Rome, that his service which he had for Jerusalem might be accepted of the saints.

“For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

            “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia”
           Literally:  “For Macedonia and Achaia thought it good;” or, “For Macedonia and Achaia took pleasure.”

            IT PLEASED: (Grk.–eudokêsan)–“to be well pleased; to think it good.” Concerning the contribution, see (I Cor. 16:1; II Cor. 8:1; 9:2). Paul's use of the Greek word êudokêsan shows that it was voluntary (II Cor. 8:4).

          For Macedonia and Achaia have thought good to make a certain contribution for the poor of the saints which are at Jerusalem (see Acts 24:17). They have thought it good; and their debtors verily they are; that is, And well they may, considering what the Gentile believers owe to their Jewish brethren.

That is, they have done it cheerfully and voluntarily. See their liberality and cheerfulness commended by Paul in II Cor. 8:1-6; 9:2. Paul had been at much pains to obtain this collection, but still they did it freely. See II Cor. 9:4-7. It was with reference to this collection that he directed them to lay by for this purpose as God had prospered them, on the first day of the week, I Cor. 16:2

Southern-Europe in Paul’s Day

          MACEDONIA: (Grk.–Makedonia)–That is, the Christians in Macedoniathose who had been Gentiles, and who had been converted to the Christian religion, (v. 27). Macedonia was a country of Greece, bounded north by Thrace, south by Thessaly, west by Epirus, and east by the Aegean Sea. It was an extensive region, and was the kingdom of Philip II, and his son Alexander the Great.  Its capital was Philippi, at which place Paul planted a church. A church was also established at Thessalonica, another city of that country, Acts 16:9, etc.; (comp. Acts 18:5; 19:21; ii Cor. 7:5; I Thess. 1:1,7; 4:10).

           ACHAIA: (Grk.–Achaia)—In the largest sense, comprehended all ancient Greece. However, Achaia Proper, was a province of Greece, embracing the western part of Greece, and Corinth was the capital. This place is mentioned as having been concerned in this collection, in II Cor. 9:2.

“a certain contribution”
Literally:  “certain gifts.” 

          CONTRIBUTION: (Grk.–koinônian)—The Greek word here translated as “contribution” is the same word for “fellowship” in Acts 2:42.

 Christians have fellowship with God, with Christ, and with one another when they give.  Fellowship is not just patting somebody on the back.  For a believer, fellowship is sharing the things of Christ.

“The poor saints which are at Jerusalem”
Literally: “The poor of the saints in Jerusalem.”

           POOR SAINTS: (Grk.–ptôchous tôn hagiôn)–Literally:  “The poor of the saints.”  All the saints in Jerusalem were not poor.  There were some there who still had some financial means and provided as much help for the poor believers as they could. 

The Christians who were in Judea were exposed to peculiar trials. They were condemned by the Sanhedrin, opposed by the rulers, and persecuted by the people (see Acts 8:1, 12:1, etc). Paul sought not only to relieve them by this contribution, but also to promote fellow-feeling between them and the Gentile Christians. And this circumstance would tend much to enforce what he had been urging in chapters 14 and 15 on the duty of kind feeling between the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity. Nothing tends so much to wear off prejudice, and to prevent unkind feeling in regard to others, as to see about some purpose to do them good, or to unite with them in doing good. 

“It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are.  For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.”

“their debtors they are”
Literally:  “Being debtors of them.”  The
Gentile Christians were indebted to the Jewish Christians for the Gospel. Spiritual things; the blessings of salvation. Carnal things; such as would supply bodily needs.

It pleased these Gentile Christians to help those at Jerusalem, and, besides, they were under obligation to them, for the church at Jerusalem was the center from which the Gospel had been spread abroad.

Why the need of this contribution for the church at Jerusalem?

This is often asked.
1.      Because it was mainly composed in the start of the poor.
2.      Because it had undergone persecution, and this always impoverishes, not only because members are spoiled of their goods, but because they are driven from their places of employment.
Hence, this church, at the center of conflict, and with a great number of poor, had need of the aid of the saints elsewhere, where they were more favored with the worldly blessings.

“for if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things”
Literally:  “For if the nations shared in their spiritual things.” It was through and by means of the Jews that the Gentiles were brought to the knowledge of God and the  Gospel of Christ. 

These were the “spiritual things” which they had received. Have received the Gospel by the instrumentality of those who had been Jews; and were admitted now to the same privileges with them.

“minister unto them in carnal things”
Literally:  “Minister to them in the fleshly things.”

          TO MINISTER:  (Grk.–leitourgêsai)-literally: “priestly service,” by using this word for “priestly service” Paul puts the ministry of alms-giving on the footing of sacrificial service.

CARNAL THINGS: (Grk.–sarkikois)–Things pertaining to the flesh; that is, to this life.

          Things which belong to the natural life of the flesh (Grk.–sarx)—i.e., the necessities of life: food, clothing and shelter; not the sinful aspects of the flesh at all. The pecuniary contribution was the carnal things which the Gentiles were now returning. The pecuniary contribution was the carnal things which the Gentiles were now returning.  This is foreign missions in reverse.  It is the missionary church helping the home church.
          On this Paul puts the obligation to support the ministers of the Gospel, (I Cor. 9:11).  It becomes a matter of debt where the hearer of the gospel receives, in spiritual blessings, far more than he confers by supporting the ministry. Every man who contributes his due proportion to support the gospel may receive far more, in return, in his own peace, edification, and in the order and happiness of his family, than his money could purchase in any other way. The gain is on his side, and the money is not lost. The minister is not a beggar; and that which is necessary to his support is not almsgiving. He has an equitable claim–as much as a physician, or a lawyer, or a teacher of youth has–on the necessaries and comforts of life.

“When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.“

“When therefore I have performed this”
Literally: “Then, having finished this.” That is, faithfully delivered up, to them this fruit, of the success of my ministry and of your conversion to God; I will come by you into Spain.

This was in his desire; he had fully purposed it, if God should see meet to permit him; but it does not appear that he ever went (see v. 24).

           PERFORMED: (Grk.–epiteleô)—literally: “to bring to an end; to accomplish; to execute; to complete.” 

As soon as he has discharged this office, this service of carrying the contribution to Jerusalem, it is his purpose to start to Spain, and to take Rome in on the way.

“have sealed to them this fruit”
Literally:  “Having sealed this fruit to them.” Made its benefits sure to them by delivering to them the contribution of their brethren

SEALED: (Grk.–sphragizô)—to seal up, to make secure.”  After he had made this contribution safe to them.

Performed it faithfully, and sealed it as it were with my ring.  This money which was gathered for the use of the poor: and these alms are very fitly called fruit. What is sealed is made secure. That is, have secured it to them. To seal an instrument of writing, a contract, deed, etc., is to authenticate it, to make it sure.. In this sense it is used here. Paul was going himself to see that it was placed securely in their hands.

FRUIT: (Grk.–karpon)–The “fruit” of the faith and love of the Gentile converts.

This result of the liberality of the Gentile churches–the fruit which their benevolence had produced. Meaning the money that was gathered for the use of the poor: and these alms are very fitly called “fruit.”

“I will come by you into Spain”
Literally:  “I will go away through you into Spain.”–Taking
Rome in my way. This was in his desire; he had fully purposed it, if God should see meet to permit him; but there is really no evidence that he ever went to Spain

“And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ.”

“I am sure that, when I come unto you”
Literally:  “And I know that I will come to you.”  He assures them that his coming will be full of blessing to them in
Christ. These allusions to his future movements are positive proof that this was written before Paul was a prisoner.

           I AM SURE: (Grk.–oida)—Literally in the Greek, “I know;” expressing the fullest confidence, a confidence that was greatly confirmed by the success of his labors elsewhere.

“that, when I come unto you”
Literally:  “I will come to you”–

“in the fullness of the blessing”
Literally:  “in the fullness of {the} blessing”–This should be his ever-burning desire in preaching.

            Paul did go to Rome; but he went in bonds, Acts chapters 27 and 28. But though he went in this manner, he was permitted there to preach the Gospel for at least two years; nor can we doubt that his ministry was attended with the anticipated success, Acts 28:30-31.
           God may disappoint us in regard to the mode in which we purpose to do good; but if we really desire it, He will enable us to do it in His own way. It may be better to preach the Gospel in bonds than at liberty; it is better to do it even in a prison, than not di it at all. Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim's Progress to amuse his heavy hours during a twelve years' cruel imprisonment, If he had been at liberty, he probably would not have written it at all. Paul preached; but preached in chains. The great desire of his heart was accomplished, but a prison was the place in which to do it.

OF THE GOSPEL:  (Grk.–tou euangeliou)–These words are not in almost every MS. of importance.

There is no doubt they should be omitted. “I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ” would be the proper rendering of this phrase. The fullness of the blessing of Christ is really more than the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ.  He hoped to come to them not only with the blessing of the Gospel, but endued with the gifts and graces of the Lord Jesus Himself; which he was now a constant instrument, in the hand of God, to dispense among those who were converted to the Christian faith. Nor was Paul mistaken in this confidence, though his visit to Rome was in very different circumstances from what he expected. See Acts 28:16-31.